I was casually eavesdropping on a fellow passenger’s conversation the other day on the train to East Croydon.
you couldn’t exactly call it eavesdropping because she was talking so loudly that everyone in the carriage had no option but to listen in to the state of her life and loves. She was at least three seats away from me so I never had a chance to see
what she looked like but she sounded young. As in, a great deal younger than me. I had been trying to concentrate on my book (“Under an English Heaven” as recommended by my brother-in-law – thanks, Baz!) but my attention was caught
– and held – when the Loud One started talking about her mother. And, in particular, about her mother’s text messages.
“They are just so
totally RANDOM!” she complained. “She texts things like: I’m on a train, will soon be at Victoria. Totally random.” At this point I dropped both my book and my bottle of water (fortunately the cap was firmly on) on the floor of the
carriage and had to rummage about for them among the legs of the people sitting next to and opposite me. This was very embarrassing but to be honest I was too busy thinking about what I had just heard to worry over much about other people’s legs. The
thing is that Miss Somebody Else’s Daughter was pretty much describing the texts I send. And, not for one minute would I have classified them as random.
I am not texting people to tell them I am on a train, I am usually explaining that I am on a bus. I like people to know that I get about, that I am not a lounge lizard or a sofa hugger, that I don’t sit about all day now I am retired with the Vicar of
Dibley box set. I like to think that when a Darling Daughter or the Son And Only or a Grand-Kid receives one of my frequent texts, they are comforted to know where I am and where I am going. How can that be random? It’s the very opposite
of random in my dictionary.
Though here’s a potential problem. Am I sure I know what “random” means in New Speak? For all I know random now means
the opposite of, well, random. Like “wicked” which apparently means "cool" these days - cool being an example of Teen Speak when I was a teenager which just goes to show that what goes round, comes round.
It’s the problem when you try, as I do, to keep up with new technology while resisting a total surrender to its every nonsensical requirement. So, when I text I insist on spelling out all the
words in full, and using correct punctuation including capital letters and full stops. Plus exclamation marks. Lots of them. I will admit that I have never been able to manage to text using just two thumbs which is, I am given to believe, the correct
way to do it. Fortunately my phone has a keyboard on it so I feel I can be excused for my lack of thumb technique. Well, why would it have a keyboard, if I were not meant to use it?
Oh and I do have one or two words which I like to sprinkle, like sugar, into my text messages every so often, just to keep the recipients wondering how I do it. Keep up with the times, I mean. Tomoz, instead of tomorrow, is my favourite. As in: “Tomoz
I will be on a train / bus going to (insert destination of choice.)” And I also allow myself to resort to “thanx” instead of “thanks” from time to time. “Thanx for a lovely time. I am now on the train / bus going home”
– that kind of thing.
Somebody Else’s Daughter with the Extremely Loud Voice should be pleased her mother sends her text messages, random or not. She
should be glad to know where her mother is every day, and how she is travelling, and to where. After all, text messages (we are always being told) should not be used for important communications such as hiring or firing, or proposing or dumping. They
are for keeping in touch. Reminding the recipients that we care about them enough to let them know which bus / train we are on. It’s an expression of love when you come to think of it.
Actually, I have just looked up what “random” means in a valuable new dictionary of Teen Speak. Apparently it means “odd, crazy, irregular” and to indicate someone who lives a life less ordinary and
has a wacky sense of humour.